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Chris Hoffman

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

If a website asks you to download a “codec,” “player,” or “browser update” to play a video, run the other way. You don’t actually need to download this sort of thing — the website is trying to infect your computer with malware.

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Wireshark is the Swiss Army knife of network analysis tools. Whether you’re looking for peer-to-peer traffic on your network or just want to see what websites a specific IP address is accessing, Wireshark can work for you.

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Minecraft runs just fine on Linux, but it’s probably not available for easy installation in your Linux distribution’s package manager. Here’s how to get your Linux system ready for Minecraft.

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Wireshark has quite a few tricks up its sleeve, from capturing remote traffic to creating firewall rules based on captured packets. Read on for some more advanced tips if you want to use Wireshark like a pro.

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Ever tried to buy a Windows license from Amazon or Newegg? If only it was so simple. You’ll encounter cheaper System Builder (OEM) and more expensive Full Version (Retail) licenses. But the difference isn’t immediately apparent.

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Wireshark, a network analysis tool formerly known as Ethereal, captures packets in real time and display them in human-readable format. Wireshark includes filters, color-coding and other features that let you dig deep into network traffic and inspect individual packets.

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Java was responsible for 91 percent of all computer compromises in 2013. Most people not only have the Java browser plug-in enabled — they’re using an out-of-date, vulnerable version. Hey, Oracle — it’s time to disable that plug-in by default.

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Java tries to install the terrible Ask Toolbar and other obnoxious junk — sorry, “sponsored software” — when you install it. Worse yet, Java bundles this junkware with security updates. This registry hack tells Java to never install that stuff.

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The extremely useful Snap feature — introduced as “Aero Snap” in Windows 7 — is much-improved in Windows 10. Snap Assist, 2×2 snapping, and vertical snap features help make you more productive on the desktop.

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iOS 8 added support for third-party keyboards. Now iPhone and iPad users can finally swap out their keyboards and use some of the same keyboards available on Android devices. Swipe-to-type is now an option for iPhone users, too.

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The default folder-merge behavior in Mac OS X is to erase the existing folder, deleting all its files rather than offering to merge them intelligently. Windows and Linux file managers have offered folder-merging for decades, but Macs still don’t.

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A new focus on the desktop brings new keyboard shortcuts for desktop users, so rejoice! Here are all the new keyboard shortcuts you need to know in the Windows 10 Technical Preview.

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Windows 10 contains some great new features. if you’re a Windows 8 user, you may be tempted to upgrade just to have your desktop work better. But you can get many of Windows 10’s features without upgrading.

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Ubuntu asks you to choose a name for your computer — known as a “hostname” — when you install it. You can change this hostname later, but Ubuntu doesn’t provide a graphical interface for doing so.

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When it comes to accessing your email, POP3 vs. IMAP isn’t just a matter of preference. POP3 is old, outdated, and not suitable for the modern world. IMAP is the one you should be using.

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Remember when uTorrent was great? The upstart BitTorrent client was super-lightweight and trounced other popular BitTorrent clients. But that was long ago, before BitTorrent, Inc. bought uTorrent and crammed it full of junkware and scammy advertisements.

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Windows runs well in Boot Camp on a Mac — mostly. Battery life is below what you’d experience in OS X, the trackpad isn’t as smooth, and the keyboard layout is weird. The tools below can help.

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A Mac’s keyboard layout just isn’t quite right for Windows. Whether you’re primarily a Windows user or primarily an OS X user, the layout doesn’t feel quite right when you run Windows in Boot Camp — but you can fix that.

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Choosing the best Wi-Fi channel on your router helps to reduce interference and improve your WI-Fi signal. These tools will help you identify the least congested Wi-Fi channel in your area.

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You probably shouldn’t install Windows 10 on your primary PC. But, if you are going to, you should at least install it in a dual-boot configuration. You can then reboot to switch between your installed versions of Windows.

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Microsoft wants your feedback about Windows 10 — really, they need it. This is the most important feature in the Windows 10 Technical Preview — not a Start menu, virtual desktops, or windowed “universal apps.”

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App extensions allow you to extend iOS’s Share menu with any service you like, add browser actions to Safari or Chrome, use custom photo-editing tools in the Photos app, and integrate cloud storage services with any app.

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iPhones and iPads can now use widgets thanks to iOS 8. In fact, you probably already have some widgets installed — they’re all just disabled by default. Here’s how to enable and use those widgets you already have.

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If you’ve purchased a “System Builder” OEM copy of Windows 8.1 from Amazon, Newegg, or another online retailer, you’re probably violating the Windows license agreement. That means you technically have a “non-genuine” copy of Windows.

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With iOS 8, Apple added a way to see which apps are draining your battery the most. This includes apps that drain your battery in the background — something that’s possible on iOS thanks to iOS 7’s “background refresh” feature.

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